Episode 11

Believing our excuses

We go deeper with customers to discover that we resist real change.

What’s happening with Customers, Now?

Believing our excuses

In our previous Episode of Customer, Now, “Projecting injustice”, we invited people to share their commitments to progressing racial justice.  We received an overwhelming response of people sharing the actions they were taking – some big, but most of them small.  Signing petitions.  Listening and learning.  Having conversations with their kids.  Small, personal acts that were meaningful to the person making them.  These small acts, at scale can make a big difference, but only when they are sustained.  When they are cumulative and when they scale.

So, in this episode, we wanted to ask, “What makes change stick?”  What are the differences in motivation between people who project and deflect; those who act and move on; and those who make committed actions, compounding into sustainable change?  We expanded our research, beyond our typical global composition of Customer, Now, to include more racially diverse perspectives – intimately (in one-to-one chats) and at scale (via quantitative data analysis).  We looked at change through the lenses of COVID-19; of racial injustice; and in mundane, everyday experiences, to see if we could draw out human truths of sustainable change, regardless of context.

Skipping forward to the answer, it’s all about “my” personal connection to what needs to change – from my realization; to my commitment; to my action; to my change.   The more a realization is about myself, and what “I” can do; the more dedicated the commitment to act is; the more meaningful the action taken; the greater the degree of change created.  If I don’t see “me” as part of the problem, I don’t see my actions as part of the solution.  And so I’m less committed.  Scale this personal process of change to 7 billion and you have both the human problem and the human solution to change.

Realization → Commitment → Action → Change

What’s next for brands?

The traditional thinking on growing brands held that because there is no globally universal customer, brands had to identify “targets”, “segments” and profiles of demographically preferable customers on which to focus. Brands were built to be exclusive.

But today, brands need only to follow the money to see bigger opportunities in building more inclusive brands. Connecting with more people, more deeply. Understanding more diverse audiences in new ways…

Further, at each point of the process, people’s responses indicated various points of deflection.  These are the excuses we make.  From blaming the media, to the need to respect the police, to “all lives matter”, to “I don’t have enough time to make a difference.”  (see the support section below)

People are conflating their beliefs on one issue with the reality of another to justify their inaction.  Believing that police need to be respected does not change the experience of racial injustice.  Similarly, believing that it’s OK for ME not to practice social distancing because “I’ve done it long enough” does not change the science of virology.  We see in people’s responses – from COVID 19 to racial injustice – that their beliefs become points of deflection for a realization, commitment, action and change NOT made.  Said differently, people are quick to find excuses NOT to change.

When we looked at all the data, the responses from people who identified as white indicated more excuses being made.  Their responses projected more and committed less.  The responses from people identifying themselves as people of color, indicated a strong personal connection to racial injustice.  There is no distancing themselves from the reality of racial injustice.  It IS reality.  Further, the responses from people of color drew a strong connection between the change they wanted to see in society and the actions they were taking in their lives to create that change.  People of color made less excuses.  People identifying as white indicated less motivation to change.

Because change is personal.  Change affects me and I affect change.  The actions we take are individual and only scale when more people feel more personally committed to them.  So, we either make change or we make excuses.


We need to respect the police

My feeling is people need to obey the law and have respect for policemen”

This isn’t a race issue

I’m pissed. A few bad people in power shouldn’t make this a race issue.”

I don’t understand why everything has to be a race issue.”

The media makes this about race when it isn’t

This is a topic that is only brought up when a white police officer kills a Black man and then it goes away, let’s thank the media for that. There are people of all colors that make good choices and there are people of all colors that make bad choices. Since the media likes their spin on hings BEFOE any facts are out there. they create the atmosphere for the nation. I attended a majority Black middle school way back in the 70’s and HAD NO PROBLEMS whatsoever with anyone. It’s about attitude . MY BIGGEST soap box over this whole thing, is if you don’t agree with BLM opinion then you are racist (see Drew Brees’ backlash) it’s a shame…..”

I can’t take action against racism because of COVID-19

Social distancing is #1 right now.”

I’m too busy to deal with racism

I don’t have the time.”

Racism will be around forever, so what’s the point?

You’ll never be rid of racism. Hate will always be a problem.”

I can’t take action against racism because of COVID-19

There isn’t anything wrong with our country other than people wanting to cry about every little issue.”

That this whole Black lives matter is just an excuse to act like criminal. And expect respect. Ridiculous.”

I’m sick and tired of people wanting special attention and then trying to say they just want their rights. It’s ridiculous. Gays do deserve special recognition, neither do minorities or majorities.”

Black lives matter?! ALL lives matter

Why do we have to say Black lives matter??? ALL LIVES MATTER. The looting and rioting people are just as bad as those cops. I’m sick of it. I don’t even watch the news anymore between covid crap and this stupidity my life is too short to waste it on that crap”

Stop making me feel guilty because I’m white

I like good people, I trust only one other person and that’s my son, I’m white, I have trouble with people that are not white because I’m absolutely fed up with being told I’m racist, that I have to employ people who are not white even though they can’t do the job, that whatever I say is always twisted and guess what …. I must be racist. Please stop. The UK isn’t that bad for everyone if you are prepared to work hard, respect our traditions and foibles and stop moaning. I lived for many years on a small island of 2,500 people and there were three of us who were white. Were we treated different? well the locals thought we had loads of money and tried everything to rip us off, but we settled in and made friends, learnt their language, ate their food and enjoyed life. I liked some of the inhabitants and I didn;t like others and the person who really annoyed me was the one other white person.”

I live around Black people, so I can see there’s no racism/I’m not racist

I have lived in the North, and have lived in the South… mostly in the south. here, there are many inter racial relationships and i have not seen many injustices due to racial biases….while i feel that the police were very very wrong in what happened in Minneapolis, i also feel that those who are standing there filming should do more than say that he can’t breathe. i think they are just as guilty for not putting down their phones and walking over to the police officer and touch his shoulder….maybe he was not in the moment or was angry with someone else, but the bystanders also have an obligation to not stand there and watch something like this happen.. one of them could have stopped it… i’m a person who would go to jail to save a life… i would not tolerate such injustice… there are bad policemen out there, but there are many more good ones. peaceful protests are fine, but the looting, killing, etc that have gone on, and some of those killed were police officers doesn’t resolve anything. in this instance an “eye for an eye” is not the solution. mourning and feeling the pressure of a definite injustice is fine, but i think because people are not as integrated in the North as they are in the south it becomes more of a problem. in general, if a Black person is murdered (whether just or unjustly) there is more news about it than if a white person had been murdered. murder in any way, shape or form is wrong and it doesn’t matter who committed it, it is wrong… it doesn’t matter what color of skin the murdered person had, he or she has still been murdered and that is so very wrong.”

I don’t see color/ I’m color blind

I wasn’t raised to see people different, no matter what color their skin is, what disabilities they may have. I love people for who they are.”

Racism is a thing of the past…it isn’t MY fault

I treat people equally, and can not be held responsible for anything that happened before I was born. You can not blame an entire police force for the behavior of one hateful man.”

My best friend is Black so I’m not racist

My best friend is Black so racial injustice doesn’t apply to me, but I’m totally against all these violent protests with the looting but I’m also against how the police treat Black people in today’s world.”

If the roles were reversed, Black people wouldn’t stand up for white people (or other varieties of empty ‘reverse racism’ arguments)

Black people want fairness and justice, however if things were reversed and white people were treated the same way, they wouldn’t care at all. It would all be the same way. They want fairness, but they hate white people and treat white people with animosity. So, really, what do they expect in return?”

Making it Personal

I never give up. I was the first woman manager in a large corporation transferred to their subsidiary in Germany. The contrast of how I was treated as a woman in the U.S. in the competitive business environment and how I was treated in my office in Frankfurt, Germany brought me to the realization of how the American culture in the 80’s was so far behind and not recognizing and respecting women in the workplace. I had to fight to get the transfer and later fought to be the head of IT for research in my company, surrounded by men who were outspokenly jealous that I got the job instead of them.”

This will never end unless we push for reform, stand up for our rights, whether Black, Irish, LGBTQ, women, or whatever. We need to care for each other, be respectful and do what we can to make a difference.”

After hearing from a friend of his own negative experiences that I was unaware of. Made me feel sad that he was treated badly because of race only.”

I work in the Black community and want to be looked at as an ally. I see the struggle Black people go against in our country, so I want to help strive to make a difference in that.”

Building inclusive brands

Brands are built to connect products with people. The growth of brands relies on their ability to connect with more people and/or to connect more meaningfully.
The traditional thinking on growing brands held that because there is no globally universal customer, brands had to identify “targets”, “segments” and profiles of demographically preferable customers on which to focus. Meanwhile, the marginalized, the quieter, the darker, the underreported, went underrepresented.

Brands were built to be exclusive.

But today, brands need to build more inclusive brands – connecting with more people, more deeply. To understand more diverse audiences in new ways. To adapt to local markets. To tap into new customers. To be relevant in new ways. To build a more diverse and inclusive business to better represent the customers they serve.

It’s about championing the identity of your customers; not requiring your customers to champion yours.

We would argue the same framework of “realization-to-change” that we require as people, works equally well for brands. To realize the bigger opportunity for THIS brand; to commit the business to it; to take actions to address it; to create change because of it.

Companies can be a massive force of change in the choices they make. The choice to build a more inclusive brand is a choice to build more diverse talent into your organization and more diverse audiences into your brand. It’s a choice to grow. To marry diversity and excellence. To do otherwise is an excuse — limiting a brand’s growth and risking its survival.

Customer Now 2020

Nothing is changing faster than ourselves.What’s happening with customers right now and what should business do next?

Suddenly, these two questions became a lot more complicated; the answers require us to get beyond the numbers, headlines and hyperbole in search of simple, scalable human truths.

That’s why we’ve launched Customer, Now., a project to document, explore and understand lock-down, and what follows it, from the customers’ perspective.

Through our global communities, we are tapping into the human truths behind customers’ experiences in real-time; exploring their inner worlds more deeply, and creating fresh, generative insights and implications to share with our community.

There’s one guiding insight that’s immediately become clear: in this fast-changing situation, nothing is changing faster than ourselves. This is what we’re exploring through Customer, Now.

It’s not uniform change, nor is it constant. It’s an evolution of our inner lives, our relationships, family, friends, home, health, work and, inevitably, our customer behaviour. And it’s more rapid than we’ve ever seen before.

Through Customer, Now. we’ll deliver to our community an insight, and its implications, every week. With this work, we have one simple aim: to drive a brighter, more progressive, customer-inspired version of tomorrow.

Explore the episodes:

01: Community as essential as food
02: The opposite is also true
03: Survival of the Simplest
04: We before me
05: Humanity in the balance
06: Guilt in Everything
07: The widening empathy gap
08: Habits of control
09: Energy beyond the moment
10: Projecting injustice
11: Believing our excuses
12: Being authentically inclusive
13: Embracing our Truths
14: Living in the grey
15: The “Sustainability” disconnect
16: Reinforcing Myself
17: 2020 “In” Review